Lateral flow tests
FILE PHOTO: Health workers and volunteers handle lateral flow test samples and record results as students take coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests at Harris Academy Beckenham, March 5, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Increased demand and shortages of lateral flow tests are pushing staff at pharmacies to bear the brunt from frustrated customers who are unable to get their free lateral flow tests, Daily Mail reported.

Some Britons claimed that they have been unable to get lateral flow tests at their local pharmacies for up to a fortnight while some pharmacies were forced to put up sign warning stating they have run out of free tests.

Given the patchy supply of test kits, pharmacy bosses warned that staff are facing ‘unfair’ and ‘abusive’ behavior by customers, the newspaper reported.

Dr. Leyla Hannbeck,chief executive officer at the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies

Dr Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMP), told the newspaper: “Up until yesterday the supply to pharmacies was still patchy. The past few days the situation has not improved.

“Pharmacies are having to put up with a lot of abuse and aggressive behaviours by members of the public because of this situation which is unfair.

“The demand is still very high now because the governments guidelines put a lot of emphasis on testing as a key out of self isolation, so naturally as Omicron cases are high people are reliant on tests to get on with daily life.”

She, however, insisted that pharmacies are still the ‘right place to distribute’ lateral flow tests as they are very accessible for everyone.

Besides, it is also possible to monitor supplies in pharmacies, she added.

Dr Hannbeck’s comments come after it emerged that the sole distributor to pharmacies closed for four days shortly after receiving around 2.5 million tests.

Alliance Healthcare, from whom pharmacies receive LFTs, reportedly took delivery of the tests on Christmas Eve and then shut.

A spokesman for Alliance Healthcare confirmed to Daily Mail that the government was aware about the company’s four days’ Christmas break.

The newspaper quoted a company spokesperson, saying: “Alliance Healthcare published its Christmas Bank Holiday opening hours on its website on 26 November. The UKHSA were aware of the planned closure and the PSNC communicated out multiple times to pharmacies.”

The spokesperson added that in the week commencing December 20, the company distributed around 9 million lateral flow tests to community pharmacies in the UK.

“Of the 2.3 million lateral flow tests that we received on December 24, over 1 million of these were distributed on the same day. In total we distributed 2 million lateral flow tests on December 24.”

Meanwhile, supplies of Covid test kits are likely to be rationed over the next fortnight as health officials struggle to meet the surge in demand, health secretary Sajid Javid has said.

In a letter written to MPs, Javid warned that tests will need to be prioritized for ‘vulnerable groups’, such as care home residents and staff.

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